The Evolving Landscape of Teen Marijuana Use: What Parents Should Know
Many adults and adolescents perceive marijuana as a harmless recreational substance. While cannabis is less dangerous than substances like opioids and methamphetamines, it can still be hazardous. For instance, mounting clinical evidence suggests that marijuana consumption during the adolescent years can heighten the risk of psychosis.
As states continue legalizing marijuana for recreational and medicinal use, worrying about its potential hazards to teenagers may seem overprotective. However, as a parent, it’s crucial to stay informed about modern marijuana strains and their link to psychosis.
How Teen Marijuana Use Has Changed
The changing environment of teenage marijuana use presents new challenges for today’s parents. Comparatively, the marijuana consumed by Generation X and millennials was far less potent, typically containing less than 4% THC, the psychoactive compound that creates pot’s characteristic high. In stark contrast, today’s cannabis strains average between 15 to 20% THC. Even more concerning are highly popular products like oils and edibles, which can contain up to 95% THC. This exponential increase in potency can severely impact a developing adolescent brain.
Further, recent years have seen a sharp rise in American teens using these high-potency products. A 2022 study by Oregon Health & Science University highlighted a whopping 245% increase in adolescent cannabis abuse since 2000. In 2020, 35% of high school seniors and 44% of college students reported using marijuana within the past year. There is also an escalating trend toward vaping as the favored method of cannabis consumption.
Despite the daunting reality of teen cannabis use, outdated cultural perceptions persist. Many parents believe marijuana couldn’t possibly be dangerous because they tried it when they were younger without ill effects. However, today’s readily available high-THC strains are hardly benign. For example, they can trigger psychotic episodes in adolescents and young adults.
Recognizing Teen Marijuana Abuse and Its Consequences
Being aware of the red flags of marijuana abuse can empower you to take early action. Warning signs can range from behavioral changes like lack of motivation, forgetfulness and declining academic performance to physical symptoms like bloodshot eyes and sudden weight gain or loss.
High-THC strains can induce temporary psychosis, with symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, paranoia and disorganized thinking. During a psychotic episode, teens may experience confusing, disorienting thoughts or feelings that have no connection to reality. Furthermore, research suggests adolescent marijuana use can increase the risk of developing chronic psychotic disorders, including schizophrenia, in adulthood.
Responding to Your Teen’s Marijuana Use
If you suspect your teen is using marijuana, immediate action is vital. Engage in open, non-judgmental discussions about the potential risks associated with marijuana use. Show understanding and offer support.
With decades of experience in treating mental and behavioral health issues, R&A Therapeutic Partners can provide the family counseling you need during this challenging time. We believe in compassionate, ethical and personalized care to help your family get on a path to recovery.
In the new landscape of teen marijuana use, arming yourself with information and resources is crucial. Reach out to us at R&A Therapeutic Partners – let’s work together to ensure your teen’s well-being.
At R&A Therapeutic Partners Raymond Estefania and Ana Moreno specialize in substance use and mental health disorder evaluations, treatment, intervention and therapeutic/educational consulting for clients throughout the greater South Florida area, as well as nationally and internationally. For more resources and information please visit Therapeutic-Partners.com or on Facebook.